Messier 102 in the sources
Sources claiming that "M102=M101":
Sources identifying M102 with NGC 5866:
Pierre Méchain's description matches with NGC 5866, and
Charles Messier's handwritten position in his personal copy of the
Catalog is almost exactly 5 degrees off NGC 5866 (presumably a data
Camille Flammarion, who had Messier's personal copies of and observing
notes related to his catalog, has known Messier's handwritten position,
and tentatively identified M102 with NGC 5866
(e.g., Flammarion 1917).
Harlow Shapley and Helen Davies, in 'The Messier Catalogue', published in
PASP Vol. 29 (Shapley and Davies 1917) and
also in The Observatory, No. 41
(Shapley and Davies 1918),
are also among the first who suggested that M102 could be NGC 5866.
They quote a letter from Prof. Bailey:
Messier's list comprises one hundred and three objects. For all of them,
positions are given, except for 102 and 103. For these only the
descriptions are given, as follows:
Shapley and Davis remark that "The visual observations of these neighboring
nebulae by the Herschels show N.G.C. 5866 much the brighter, and its
identity with M 102 can be accepted as quite probable."
102. Nebuleuse entre les etoiles Omicron du Bouvier and [sic!] Jota du
Dragon; elle est tres-faible; pres d'elle est une etoile de la sixieme
grandeur [Nebula betrween the stars Omicron Bootis and Jota Draconis;
it is very faint; near it is a star of sixth magnitude].
103. Amas d'etoiles entre Epsilon et Delta de la jambe de Cassiopeia
[Cluster of stars between Epsilon and Delta Cassiopeiae].
By a star chart, or the sky, you will see that, taken as it stands, no
object could be well selected for M102, since Omicron Bootis is too far
from Jota Draconis. If, however, Omicron is a misprint for Theta, it
becomes intelligible, and M102 is perhaps N.G.C. 5866, altho in
Norton's Atlas it is apparently identified as N.G.C. 5979. On our
photographs, however, N.G.C. 5866 appears to be the brightest object
in this region.
Don Machholz in his Messier Marathon Observer's Guide
Don Machholz also discusses the subject and comes to similar conclusions
as the present author.
Antonin Becvar in his
`Atlas Coeli, Atlas of the Heavens - II, Catalogue 1950.0', 1964
gives in the `Anagalactic Nabulae' section for NGC 5866 the alternative
name M102 (p. 329 or S21). Oddly, in the `Catalogue of Messier' section
on p. 339 or M3, he gives
M 102 = NGC 5866, Type S [galaxy], [No other data], Notes: `= M 101'
Perhaps this reflects the situation :-)
Hans Vehrenberg, in his Atlas of Deep Sky Splendors, claims that
Owen Gingerich has added it, which I do not believe because Gingerich
claims the opposite. This claim is possibly based on a report by Paul
Ahnert in his Kalender für Sternfreunde 1962, p. 164-166.
It seems that this - presumably erroneous - claim also found its way
into recent work such as
Harvard Pennington's The Year-Round Messier Marathon and
George R. Kepple's and Glen W. Sanner's The Night Sky Observer's
Guide (Vol. 2).
RNGC (RNGC, 1973), p. 273, gives M102 as alternative
name for NGC 5866.
Landolt/Börnstein, in their monumental encyclopedia, list NGC 5866
as M102 in their Volume 6, 1, chapter 9, where they have a table of NGC
numbers of Messier's galaxies.
Erich Karkoschka in his Atlas. Karkoschka states in the description to
chart N16 (I must translate from the German edition):
``Messier's list contains as its object 102 a galaxy [it's the first
time I hear that Messier did know that - hf] near the position of NGC
5866. However, his description points to a duplication of M101 [I
cannot verify this, see both descriptions given above; my impression
is more that NGC 5866 might match the description - hf]. Did Messier
do a mistake of 1 hour in right ascension [How, as he gave no measured
position :-) - hf] ? Therefore, the designation M102 is nonunique.''
J.D. Wray, The Color Atlas of Galaxies, Cambridge UP, 1988
The SIMBAD database has
in his Twelve Month Tour of the
Messier Catalog, May issue.
A data list from Finland, available on the internet via anonymous ftp:
Nasa's extragalactic database
login ned) had M102 as a name for
NGC 5866 until April-May 2001.
Sources with other identifications:
Here we give a table of the brighter stars within the rectangular region
limited by the RA/Dec of Theta Bootis and Iota Draconis:
Admiral Smyth proposes either NGC 5879 or NGC 5866. Kenneth Glyn Jones
gives his description:
`A small but brightish nebula on the belly of Draco with four small
stars spreading across field N of it. Doubt as to wether this is the
nebula discovered by Méchain in 1781 since Messier describes it as
``very faint'', situated between Omicron Bootis and Iota Draconis. If
Omicron Bootis should be Theta Bootis, this is probably the object seen
by Méchain and J.H.'s 1910, being the brightest nebula of five in that
The problem is that John Herschel's number 1910 is NGC 5879, which is
however not the brightest of the group; the brightest is NGC 5866.
Dreyer (NGC) oddly proposes 14th mag galaxy NGC 5928.
RA (2000.0) Dec (2000) mag Sp Id
23 Theta Boo 14:25:11.8 +51:51:03 4.10v F7V HR 5404, GC 19467, HD 126660, SAO 29137
HR 5442 14:32:30.9 +55:23:52 5.76 K5III GC 19627, HD 128000, SAO 29191
HR 5451 14:34:16.0 +57:03:55 6.48 F7V GC 19666, HD 128332, SAO 29202
HR 5467 14:38:15.2 +54:01:24 5.85 A1V GC 19742, HD 128998, SAO 29227
HD 133666 15:03:21.6 +56:02:06 6.86 K2 SAO 29393
HD 134023 15:05:23.7 +55:40:38 7.5 F8 SAO 29401
* HR 5635 15:06:16.7 +54:33:23 5.25 G8III GC 20332, HD 134190, SAO 29407
HR 5715 15:20:05.1 +51:57:31 5.60 A4V GC 20641, HD 136729, SAO 29487
12 Iota Dra 15:24:55.8 +58:57:58 3.29 K2III Edasich, GC 20747, HD 137759, SAO 29520
Charles Messier, 1781.
Catalogue des Nébuleuses et des Amas d'Étoiles.
Connoissance des Temps, ou Connoissance des Mouvemens Célestes,
pour l'Année bissextile 1784, Paris, 1781, pp. 227-272.
Here p. 266 and 267.
Charles Messier, 1781.
Personal copy of his catalog, issues of 1780 (2nd version, M1-M68) and 1781,
including manuscript notes. From the library of Camille Flammarion.
Thanks to Dr. Don Greeley for providing me with a copy of this document!
Of particular interest here is his manuscript addition of the position of
M102 on p. 266 in Messier's personal copy of the catalog of 1781.
Pierre Méchain, 1783.
Extrait No. 9 de la Correspondence de M. Bernoulli.
Nouveaux Mémoires de l'Académie Royale des Sciences et
Belles-Lettres, année MDCCLXXXII (1782), pp. 46-51 (printed 1784).
Johann Elert Bode and Pierre Méchain,
Ueber die Bahn des zweyten Kometen von 1781. Entdeckung einiger
Nebelsterne; die Elemente der Bahn des neuen Planeten und astronomische
Beobachtungen. Von Herrn Mechain, in Paris.
Extract from a letter to Mr. Bernoulli dated May 6, 1783.
Astronomisches Jahrbuch für das Jahr 1786. nebst einer Sammlung der
neuesten in die astronomischen Wissenschaften einschlagenden Abhandlungen,
Beobachtungen und Nachrichten. Berlin, 1783, pp. 231-237. Here p. 233.
William Smyth, 1844.
The Bedford Catalogue: From A Cycle of Celestial Objects.
John W. Parker, London. Here p. 335.
John Louis Emil Dreyer, 1895.
Index Catalogue of Nebulae Found in the Years 1888 to 1894, with Notes and
Corrections to the New General Catalogue.
Mem. Roy. Astron. Soc., Vol. 51, pp. 185-228. Here p. 243.
Guillaume Bigourdan, 1907.
Observations des Nébuleuses et d'Amas Stellaires.
Chapitre II. Le Découvertes des Nébuleuses.
II. De 1700 à W. Herschel.
Annales l'Observatoire de Paris. Observations. 1917. pp. E.135-141.
Here p. E.140.
By the way, Bigourdan only cites Méchain's remark on M102 and does
not exploit the letter for Méchain's discoveries.
Harlow Shapley and Helen Davies, 1917.
The Messier Catalogue.
Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Vol. 29,
pp. 177-179 (August 1917)
Harlow Shapley and Helen Davies, 1918.
Messier's catalogue of nebulae and clusters.
The Observatory, No. 41, pp. 318-320 (August 1918)
Camille Flammarion, 1917.
Nébuleuses et Amas d'Étoiles de Messier.
L'Astronomie. Revue de la Societé Astronomique de France,
November 1917. P. 385-400, here p. 385-386.
Also see Flammarion's table of
Messier's catalogue online.
Camille Flammarion, 192x.
[Article on M102 in L'Astronomie of c. 1921 - to be consulted.]
Helen Sawyer Hogg, 1947.
Catalogues of Nebulous Objects in the Eighteenth Century.
Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 41, No.
Helen B. Sawyer, 1948.
Méchain's additions to Messier's catalogue.
Astronomical Journal, Vol. 53, p. 117
Owen Gingerich, 1953.
Messier and His Catalog. Part II.
Sky and Telescope, Vol. 12, September 1953, p. 288.
Reprinted in Mallas, Kreimer (1978).
Owen Gingerich, 1960.
The Missing Messier Objects.
Sky & Telescope, Vol 20, October 1960, p. 196.
Reprinted in Mallas, Kreimer (1978).
Kenneth Glyn Jones, 1968 and 1991.
Messier's Nebulae & Star Clusters. 2nd edition,
Cambridge University Press, 1991. Practical Astronomy Handbooks Vol. 2.
1st edition 1968, Faber.
Jack W. Sulentic and William G. Tifft.
The Revised New General Catalogue
of Nonstellar Astronomical Objects. The University of Arizona Press,
John H. Mallas and Evered Kreimer, 1978.
The Messier Album. 1st edition.
Sky Publishing Corporation, 1978. Second revised printing 1979.
Don Machholz, 1994.
Messier Marathon Observer's Guide - Handbook and Atlas.
MakeWood Products, P.O.Box 1716, Colfax, CA 95713, USA.
The Observing Guide to the Messier Marathon. A Handbook and Atlas.
Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Hartmut Frommert, 1995.
Posting of May 1995 to Usenet Groups including news:sci.astro.research
(May 10, 1995) and Mailing Lists.
Copy of the original article.
Hartmut Frommert, 1998.
M102 Controversy. SACNEWS, Issue No. 254, March 1998, pp. 1-5.
Hartmut Frommert, 2006.
Messier 102: Status der Identifizierung dieses Messier-Objekts. In German.
Journal für Astronomie, No. 19 (I/2006), pp. 69-71 (January 2006)
Last Modification: March 7, 2006